Australian Sleddog Tours a hit at Mt Buller

By Tara Whitsed

It is worth taking a walk off the beaten track at Mt Buller resort.

Just a 10-minute stroll down Corn Hill Rd, about 1.5km below the Mt Buller Village, is Brett Hadden from Australian Sleddog Tours.

Mr Hadden established the tours in 2005 with Neisha Gschwend.

He explained how it came to be.

“It all started while out training for the Altitude 5000 Race — we were approached by an elderly Canadian lady,” he said.

“She asked ‘could you possibly take my grandson for a short ride in your sled? I see sleddogs all the time in Canada but my grandson lives in Australia, it's not something you see here every day, I really want him to experience what I take for granted at home in Canada.’

“So off they went and on return they were giggling and had smiles from ear to ear.

“The Canadian lady thanked us all, including the huskies, but before leaving she turned, looked at us both and said ‘you should do sleddog tours’.

“So began our journey; we had five huskies back then, more huskies were needed so we started rescuing huskies to join the team.

“There is nothing more rewarding than giving them a second chance in life and seeing them do what they love to do.”

It was in 2017 when the they adopted a dog with a difference.

Dusty the kelpie joined the team and has become quite the celebrity since, according to Mr Hadden.

Dusty the kelpie was rescued and cuts a different figure against his husky mates.

Having become known to many as ‘The Legend of the High Plains’, Dusty eagerly sits at the lead of one of Mr Hadden’s sleds — barking a distinctly different sound to his husky mates.

Mr Hadden said it was getting towards the end of the season and they had had another successful year.

The tours range from quick 30-minute sample tours for groups of six, including a meet and greet with the dogs, right through to a 3.5-hour tour where the participant learns to handle and drive their own Siberian husky team.

And if sledding is not your thing, there are also simple meet and greets available with the huskies.

Staff member Daniel Lack said he joined the team after working for 13 years as a large carnivore handler with lions, wolves, tigers, sharks and a puma.

Hired to write a movie script about the kelpie who became a sled dog (Dusty), Mr Lack said he stayed on to work with the sleddogs until the film is made.

“The smiling faces, the eager barks and post-pat satisfied faces of all these rescued and rehoused huskies melts the heart,” he said.

“I’m a sucker for the 'underdog' and it’s been a true wonder getting to discover the ancient sleddog culture with such beautiful souls.”

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